Exit 80. The bubble has popped.

(Those of you who are my friends on Facebook have already read this.  I wrote this three days ago as a friends only note, because I was going to include some things that weren’t appropriate to share with the general public, but all of those details got edited out of the final version anyway, so I’m sharing it here too.)

I’m realizing some things about myself. I’m a lot more judgmental than I thought I was. It’s in my nature. I became a Christian at 19, and I’m sad to say that part of the attraction to me for the first few years was being part of the community derisively labeled “the Christian bubble.” Here, in Christianity, I found a community of like-minded individuals who shared my beliefs about God and Jesus, and many of whom shared my right wing political views as well. I quickly discovered that there was a Christian culture in which I could immerse myself, a culture of DC Talk and VeggieTales and Left Behind and WWJD bracelets where I could be part of a secret underground movement that knew the secrets to living right. Although I would never say it out loud, deep down inside I seemed to have this attitude that being part of this movement made me superior to those who weren’t. And the best part about it was that it was all approved by the God who created the universe… or so I thought. I aspired to a future in the Christian bubble. I would live a life of purity and celibacy until I met a woman who was also living in the Christian bubble, and we would raise kids in the bubble whose social lives would revolve around AWANA and Sunday school and church activities, and I could teach my kids implicitly that we were better than the heathens around us because we knew Jesus.

In my early 30s, I started spending a lot of social time around a new group of friends who I did not meet at church.  It was rather eye-opening for my social life to move outside the Christian bubble, but I always thought the best place for me was to live with one foot in the bubble and one foot on the outside. That way, I could pretend like I was reaching out to people outside of Christianity while still safely enough in the bubble that I could go about knowing that I was living better than the ways of the rest of the world, which just don’t make sense to me. And someday I’d find my way back to the bubble; this was my true identity, after all.

There are, of course, a lot of problems with this. For one thing, in the Christian bubble, you have to get married pretty young and start having kids right away, because that is how the bubble culture is perpetuated. That hasn’t been the path my life has taken. And life is changing. The bubble has popped. I gradually became less involved at church, as my peer group grew up and moved on. My demographic isn’t very well represented in most churches, and now I’m not even sure which church is mine anymore. I’m not going to find my way back to the bubble. And, more importantly, I know that the bubble should not be my destination. Jesus did not live in a bubble. He reached out to those on the fringes of society. And, while he spoke the truth, he also loved people where they were instead of judging their lifestyles. But many Christians want to keep their bubble. I don’t. That isn’t the path to maturity.

It’s scary, though. Being judgmental and staying in a safe Christian bubble, where everything makes sense and things that don’t make sense aren’t tolerated, is easy. But that’s not life. The bubble hasn’t worked. I’m not saying Christianity itself doesn’t work for me anymore, just the bubble. Life is changing. There are beliefs that I always thought I held that have never been tested, and they’re going to be tested now that I’m out of the bubble. It’s scary. But at this point in my life, the bubble is holding me back, and moving out of the bubble has been good. And it’s a move in the right direction. And it’s a move toward seeing the world the way Jesus does.